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Games as Text in K12 Classrooms (with Higher Ed’s Influence) - THATCamp Games 2013
  • Games as Text in K12 Classrooms (with Higher Ed’s Influence)

    After attending the last THATCamp Games, I came to realize the great success that higher ed educators have had with the study of video games as text. I’m a high school history teacher, and I spend a great deal of time developing curriculum and helping teachers integrate technology and 21st century skills in their classrooms.

    When I speak to K12 educators about the uses of games in education, I often find that their expectations are for curriculum-specific games, i.e. that in order to use games in my classroom, I need a game that teaches how to solve quadratic equations.

    In K12, we’re perpetually torn apart by competing initiatives.

    Presently, the Common Core (nonfiction obsessed) and state tests are driving teachers in a search for curriculum-specific games. Both the Common Core and the state tests run contrary to widespread educator interest in the promotion of 21st century skills- founded upon authenticity, innovation, and collaboration.

    So, my point is that I’d like to collect a variety of specific games used educationally by attendees, and find out their “angle”- what questions about the games would/do attendees use to drive student thought? Like..

    Bioshock Infinite:

    • What is the purpose of the game’s violence?
    • What interpretations of the past does the game developer use to generate the game’s main characters?
    • What specific historical events, people, and ideas influenced the cultural landscape of Columbia?
    • How is metaphor used to communicate actual historical thought and intent?

    I feel that the benefits for the K12 classroom are twofold- students investigate the subtlety of the text to draw out real-world authenticity, and teachers promote deep thinking skills and evaluation among students.

    I’m building a site to collect and present this sort of thing, and am planning to have the site focus on “off the shelf” games, linking classroom activities to specific levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, 21st century skills, and the HEAT Framework. The site will draw game metadata from an API like the Games Radar as games are released.

    I’d love to hear your ideas!

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